High school boys basketball

Nothing but net: Hart receives memorable 500-win celebration

Windjammer coach joins illustrious group with that many career victories
By Mark Haskell | Feb 14, 2018
Photo by: Mark Haskell Camden Hills boys varsity basketball coach Jeff Hart poses for a photo with a plaque and game ball, both of which signify his 500th career victory.

Camden — Typically, during the high school basketball season, Tuesdays are game nights.

But not Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Sure, there were a few scrimmages on the Camden Hills Regional High School court earlier in the afternoon. But 7 p.m., typically tip-off time, on this night, the floor was reserved for Windjammer coach Jeff Hart, who officially had joined exclusive company just four days prior.

Click for photos from the celebration.

Watch video, courtesy of Penny and Charlie Crockett, below from the ceremony.

With Camden Hills’ 51-38 road win over Morse of Bath on Friday, Feb. 8, the team's regular-season finale, Hart joined rarefied air as he collected his 500th career coaching victory.

Hart, in his 36th year on the bench, is the ninth high school basketball coach in the state to reach 500 victories and the fifth boys coach to do so, as he joins Boothbay Region’s I.J. Pinkham, Bangor’s Roger Reed, Falmouth’s Dave Halligan and Jonesport-Beals’ Ordie Alley.

On Tuesday night, more than 100 former players, coaches, fans, friends and family members filled two sections of bleachers in the corner of the CHRHS gymnasium. Facing them was athletic director Steve Alex and Hart, the guest of honor.

And, of course, Hart brought six of his friends. Namely, all six of Camden Hills’ gold balls won in his tenure, released from the trophy case for the night’s celebration.

Alex presented Hart’s wife, Melissa, and 6-year-old daughter, Julia, with bouquets of flowers, and then asked Julia to accompany him to the near wall of the gymnasium.

Julia then pulled a cord hanging from the rafters to unveil a banner, congratulating Hart on his 500th victory, to the applause of the assembled crowd.

In his coaching career, which began in 1982, Hart has amassed a 500-213 record, including 452-192 in the regular season and 48-21 in the postseason.

While his coaching career did not get off to a booming start in terms of wins and losses, Hart later collected 13 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B titles, 10 regional championships and six state titles in an 18-year period from 1994-2011.

Three of those six state titles were the culmination of undefeated seasons, and he also had another undefeated regular season in 1998.

Hart is also a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and will be inducted into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame this summer. He also is a member of the Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame.

In attendance at the ceremony were teams from Maranacook of Readfield and Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston. The two teams were involved in scrimmages earlier in the day as both the Black Bears and Mariners, like the Windjammers, are in the midst of preparing for their upcoming regional tournaments.

It is apropos that it was those two teams scrimmaged the Windjammers that day, as both the Black Bears and Mariners (formerly Rockland District High School Tigers) have had longstanding rivalries with the ‘Jammers over the years.

Oceanside coach Matt Breen presented a congratulatory card signed by himself and the members of his team to Hart.

Hart was presented a plaque for his 500 career wins, and the game ball from the Morse game by senior co-captains Noah Heidorn and John Curtin.

Then, after longtime assistant coach Paul MacDonald said a few words on Hart’s behalf, Hart, who was noticeably taken back with all the fanfare and adulation, addressed the crowd.

“I just want to say thank you to everybody that came out here tonight,” he said. “It’s a real privilege to have coached in this community for all the years that I have. And, you know, the first thing that I think of when I see these six state championships, to be quite honest with you, is I have 29 or 30 other teams that mean just as much to me as the kids that played on these teams. It’s just been a great ride and I couldn’t have done it without all the great players I’ve had and the great coaches I’ve had a chance to work with and coach against, and I appreciate you all.

“I’m not a real good speaker, so, I’m pretty touched by this. Let’s go eat some cake or something.”

All were then treated to cake — with Congratulations Coach Hart #basketballhalloffame#500 wins emblazoned on top — to commemorate the special night.

The Windjammers (11-7), the No. 5 seed in the Class A North tournament, hope to collect win 501 for Hart on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center against No. 4 Cony of Augusta (13-5).

Jeff Hart 500th victory celebration
Coach Jeff Hart's 500th victory celebration on Feb. 13 at Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport. (Courtesy of: Charlie and Penny Crockett)
Camden Hills boys varsity basketball coach Jeff Hart, left, with children, Morgan, middle, Daniel, right, and Julia. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Camden Hills athletic director Steve Alex, right, addresses the crowd, while Jeff Hart looks on. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Six gold balls won in coach Jeff Hart's tenure, along with a collection of balloons at Tuesday's ceremony. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
A view of Jeff Hart's 500th career win ceremony.
Camden Hills athletic director Steve Alex, right, Jeff Hart and Hart's six state championship gold balls. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Camden Hills athletic director Steve Alex, right, and Jeff Hart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
A cake commemorating coach Jeff Hart's 500th career win. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart, left, along with daughter, Julia, and wife, Melissa. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart and daughter, Julia. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart, left, his daughter, Julia, and wife, Melissa. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart, left, and athletic director Steve Alex. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart's daughter, Julia, pulls the cord to unveil her father's 500-win banner. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart's daughter, Julia, pulls the cord to unveil her father's 500-win banner. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Camden Hills' senior Noah Heidorn presents a ball signed by Windjammer players. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Camden Hills senior Noah Heidorn, right, and Jeff Hart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Camden Hills senior Noah Heidorn presents coach Jeff Hart with the ball from his 500th career coaching victory. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
From left, Camden Hills' John Curtin, Jeff Hart and Noah Heidorn. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Longtime Windjammer boys basketball assistant coach Paul MacDonald. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart, left, and Paul MacDonald. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart's 500th career victory banner. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Jeff Hart and daughter, Julia, who wears a shirt that has the number 500 — to signify her dad's accomplishments. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Comments (1)
Posted by: Tom Mellor | Feb 14, 2018 22:07

Coach Hart has to be considered as one of the best basketball coaches in the history of our state. Congratulations and good luck in the tournament.



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